Sapporo restarts talks with Steel in latest takeover twist


Sapporo Breweries, the nation’s third-largest beer maker, said Friday that it will restart talks with Steel Partners over the U.S. hedge fund’s latest proposal to boost its stake in Sapporo.

The decision by Sapporo’s board of directors heralds a new phase in the two sides’ one-year-old struggle over the brewer’s management.

In its latest proposal on March 10, Steel Partners Japan Strategic Fund (Offshore) L.P. said that it will raise its offer price for Sapporo shares to ¥875 per share to gain a 33.3 percent holding in the company.

The latest offer was a revision of its initial proposal in February 2007 to launch a tender offer at ¥825 per share to acquire a 66.6 percent stake in Sapporo, providing the brewer’s board of directors approved the move.

It was thought that the two sides’ discussions had ended as Sapporo’s board of directors last month turned down the takeover proposal, citing its advisory panel’s judgment that Steel’s offer would be detrimental to the interests of Sapporo shareholders.

“We’ve decided to hold necessary talks with SPJSF, as we need its detailed explanations, including confirmation of its proposal and data that have not yet been released,” Sapporo said in a statement Friday.